When it comes to tablets, consumers in the Philippines have a number of budget options to choose from that don’t compromise too much in the performance department. In fact, you can get a dual core tablet in the Php6-7k range if you know where to look that can compete with the likes of the Galaxy Tab 2. However, there is one thing that I’ve yet to see in any of the locally rebranded or imported sub-Php10k tablets here in the Philippines: a premium look and feel. That is, until the Starmobile Engage 7HD came along.
The Design: Surprisingly Premium for the Price
In addition to kicking butt performance-wise, the best tablets are able to create an impact on other people with just a glimpse of their premium materials or stylish design. It’s just not possible to whip out something by Coby or Ainol and get that same response. However the Starmobile Engage 7HD is a different story with its brushed metal shell and modern design that gives it an identity all its own. Most other budget Android tablets sport a generic, nondescript design, but not so with the Engage 7HD. It has some aggressive styling, despite the elegant appearance of the materials. I seriously wouldn’t be afraid be afraid to take this out at a Starbucks in the midst of all those iPad and Galaxy Tab users.
The Display: IPS for Wide Angles
Another thing that the Starmobile Engage 7HD has going for it is its 1280 x 800 HD resolution IPS display. IPS stands for in-plane switching and is a kind of LCD technology that allows for more accurate color reproduction and wider viewing angles. IPS is all the rage right now, even on budget devices, and it’s a good thing the Engage 7HD sports it. At that resolution, the Engage 7HD has a pixel density of about 216ppi. That’s pretty good for what’s considered to be a budget tablet, especially when a majority of the 7 inch budget tablets in the local market only have a resolution of 800 x 480. A higher resolution means you’ll be able to see more of a website onscreen, and that kind of pixel density will allow for more detail for things like movies, games and reading text because of the greater perceived sharpness.
Performance: At That Price? Sold!
The Starmobile Engage 7HD isn’t just about looks though. It’s powered by a 1.2GHz dual core AML8726-MX CPU and Mali-400 GPU to go along with 1Gb of RAM. That dual core chip might not be the fastest, but it’ll give you close to the same performance as a Galaxy Tab 2. That Mali-400 GPU is quite respectable considering it also powers the graphics on my Galaxy Note. The chipset should be good enough to provide snappy navigation through the UI and run all your favorite apps. The Mali-400 might be a bit aged, but I’ve been able to play The Dark Knight on it, even if the framerates would drop to a crawl in some scenes. Games like Dead Trigger and Shadowgun shouldn’t be a problem though.
Wireless Connectivity: WiFi Only Tablet
Update: GPS is not verified on the spec sheets, only A-GPS. The spec sheet I copied is from Kristn.com, which listed it as having GPS. My apologies for the mixup.
For most of your wireless browsing and downloading though, you’ll have to rely on WiFi 802.11 b/g/n. One thing that I especially like is that the Starmobile Engage 7HD also comes with
GPS, so it can double as your car’s navigation system that you can just prop inside a car dock A-GPS. Car owners should definitely consider maximizing this feature. Of course, being a budget tablet, the Engage 7HD does make a few compromises in the wireless connectivity department. There’s no Bluetooth for file transfers or to connect peripherals like a Bluetooth headset or keyboard. There’s also no built in 3G, but you do get a USB On-The-Go cable that you can connect a 3.5G broadband modem to. You can also use it with a mouse or keyboard if you really want to get productive on this tablet.
Imaging: 8mp and 720 Recording
I don’t actually care too much about snapping pictures using a tablet, but if you do, the Starmobile 7HD sports an 8mp snapper with LED flash. It hasn’t been specified if it’s an autofocus unit or not, but users will easily get tired of snapping pictures on the Engage 7HD. A tablet is much more unwieldy to handle when you’re using it as a camera anyway. At least that feature’s there if you need it, along with 720 recording for videos. For video chats, you’ll also get a VGA front-facing camera. That should be enough for your typical Skype session, but people who like to take self-shots for their Facebook profile pics will be left a little wanting.
The Starmobile Engage 7HD has a 4,000mAh battery, which is just okay. It’s officially rated to provide enough juice for 5 hours of video playback and 400 hours on standby. Of course, who knows what that would translate to in terms of real world usage.
Should You Buy It?
At that price, it’s hard to go wrong with the Engage 7HD. The only reason I can think of not to buy this tablet is if you have a Bluetooth accessory that you want to pair with it. The closest competitor from a trusted brand would have to be the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 WiFi-only model, and that will set you back Php12k without the premium looks. Too bad I can’t afford to get one yet, but if you have Php8,000 that you want to shell out this Christmas then strongly consider getting the Starmobile Engage 7HD for yourself.
Starmobile Engage 7HD Specs
- 7 inch IPS capacitive display at 1280 x 800 resolution (216ppi)
- 1.2GHz dual core AML8726-MX CPU
- Mali-400 GPU
- Android 4.0 ICS
- 1Gb RAM
- 8Gb internal storage, expandable up to 32Gb
- WiFi b/g/n
GPS withA-GPS support
- USB On-The-Go cable (supports 3.5G modems)
- 4,000mAh battery (5 hours video playback, 400 hours standby)
- Price: Php7,999
- Availability: Out Now!